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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


To progress to a same day surgery program for arthroplasty, it is important that we examine and resolve the issues of why patients stay in the hospital. The number one reason is fear and anxiety for the unknown and for surgical pain. The need for hospital stay is also related to risk arising from comorbidities and medical complications. Patients also need an extended stay to manage the side effects of our treatment, including after-effects of narcotics and anesthesia, blood loss, and surgical trauma. The process begins pre-operatively with an appropriate orthopaedic assessment of the patient and determination of the need for surgery. The orthopaedic team must motivate the patient, and ensure that the expectations of the patient, family and surgeon are aligned. In conjunction with our affiliated hospitalist group that performs almost all pre-admission testing, we have established guidelines for patient selection for outpatient arthroplasty. The outpatient surgical candidate must have failed conservative measures, must have appropriate insurance coverage, and must be functionally independent. Previous or ongoing comorbidities that contraindicate the outpatient setting include: cardiac – prior revascularization, congestive heart failure, or valve disease; pulmonary – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or home use of supplemental oxygen; untreated obstructive sleep apnea – BMI >40 kg/m2; renal disease – hemodialysis or severely elevated serum creatinine; gastrointestinal – history or post-operative ileus or chronic hepatic disease; genitourinary – history of urinary retention or severe benign prostatic hyperplasia; hematologic – chronic Coumadin use, coagulopathy, anemia with hemoglobin <13.0 g/dl, or thrombophilia; neurological – history of cerebrovascular accident or history of delirium or dementia; solid organ transplant. Pre-arthroplasty rehabilitation prepares the patient for peri-operative protocols. Patients meet with a physical therapist and are provided with extensive educational materials before surgery to learn the exercises they will need for functional recovery. Enhancement of our peri-operative pain management protocols has resulted in accelerated rehabilitation. The operative intervention must be smooth and efficient, but not hurried. Less invasive approaches and techniques have been shown to decrease pain, reduce length of stay, and improve outcomes, especially in the short term.

In 2014, 385 primary partial knee arthroplasty procedures (7 patellofemoral replacement, 13 lateral, and 365 medial) were performed by the author and his 3 associates at an outpatient surgery center. Of those, 348 (95%) went home the same day while 17 (5%) required an overnight stay, with 11 for convenience related to travel distance or later operative time and 6 for medical issues. Outpatient arthroplasty is safe, it's better for us and our patients, and it is here now. In an outpatient environment the surgeon actually spends more time with the patients and family in a friendly environment. Patients feel safe and well cared for, and are highly satisfied with their arthroplasty experience.